As we head into the New Year, each of us should set priorities for 2020. For your organization, those priorities may be guided by a strategic or formal work plan, or they may be a list of goals you’ve written based on your experience. Either way, successfully accomplishing the items in your plan is not as easy as it might seem. Following are five reasons your current plan might fail, and what to do if it does.
Reason #1: It’s not a plan, it’s a wish list.
Be realistic! Is your plan really a plan, or just a list of things you’d like to accomplish? Setting goals is important, and it is the first step in accomplishing great things. At the same time, goals don’t turn into realities unless you break them down into smaller, actionable steps. A real plan identifies what you want to accomplish and then sets out reasonable, time-based steps for achieving it. You won’t attract new clients without a specific plan for attracting them, actions to capture and keep them, and measures of success along the way.
Reason # 2: It’s not a team effort.
Where is your plan? Is it in your personal notebook or on a file somewhere on your computer? That’s not good enough. It should be in plain sight, like on the desk of every person on your team. Making your plan a reality requires the focus of your full team, and that starts with great communication. Share your plan. Talk about it in every team meeting. Track the actions you are taking to achieve it, and review progress with the team regularly. Nothing beats the power of a group of smart, dedicated individuals once you get them focused on what really matters.
Reason # 3: You don’t have the resources you need.
There are often many different ways to achieve a desired outcome, some that require a lot of resources (a multimedia ad campaign) and some that don’t (a grassroots effort to tell your story). But, by the time you get to your yearly plan of action, you need to have considered, and allocated, the appropriate resources. Make sure your plan is aligned with both your budget and your human capital. If not, make adjustments now. There are only two ways to move more quickly toward your goals, either add more resources, or reduce the number of goals.
Reason # 4: You’ve added, but not subtracted activities.
No organization has unlimited resources. Even a business growing each year needs to prioritize the way it spends time, energy and money to ensure it doesn’t outgrow its ability to deliver products and services. With passionate team members, most businesses are not at a loss for exciting new ideas. However, the challenge is usually managing those ideas and choosing the best ones to pursue. Before taking on anything new, ask yourself what role the new project or program plays in your portfolio of activities and look to see if there is something you can eliminate at the same time. Think about the expert advice that says every time you put a brand new sweater in your closet you should identify an old one to remove. Likewise, shedding old programs and activities to make way for the new is a critical element of keeping your portfolio right-sized and manageable, setting up your business for long term success.
Reason #5: You’re too close to it.
It’s your plan, you know it best, right? Yes, and as a result, as time goes on and it gets more and more familiar, you can easily twist what you had initially envisioned into what you are already doing and call it done. Suddenly, “create an online course to advance our profession” becomes two webinars held live with 20 participants each. Goal complete. Check. But is that what you really intended when you added that goal to the plan? Probably not. Combat this temptation by enlisting the help of an accountability partner outside your team or even outside your organization. A third-party partner keeps you honest, helps provide fresh, unbiased perspective, and pushes you to stay strategic.
Turning your plan into a reality is possible with a bit of structure, communication and accountability. Take time now to lay the groundwork by adding clarity, aligning your resources, including your team, eliminating less important tasks and finding a strategy partner to help keep you and your organization on the path to successfully achieving your 2020 goals.